Carb Cycling Is The Way To Go


Carbohydrates are basically the energy of the body – they give us enough fuel to function properly, as well as to work out. When you ingest carbs, you also replenish your glucose and glycogen stores, thus preventing premature fatigue. However, the problem with ingesting too many carbs is that you amass body fat and end up with more pounds than you wanted. This is where carb cycling steps in, allowing you to eat carbs from clean sources without adding body fat and enabling you to better utilize fat for fuel (as opposed to burning carbs and muscle tissue for fuel).

The question that most people ask is whether carbs are the real enemy and the answer is: no, they’re not. You’ve probably had a chance to see ads or read articles where people vigorously blame carbs for their increased weight gains, whereas the reality of the issue is that carbs are not the problem – improper carb timing is the problem, as it directly causes carbs to be stored as fat. Carbs may not be essential to the body, but they make dieting and eating easier and much more pleasurable (as long as the carbs ingested come from the proper sources).

Carbs have enjoyed quite a bad reputation in the media lately due to the number of people who have jumped on the proverbial bandwagon to make a couple of dollars off the latest trend in dieting – low carb diets (which are usually utter nonsense). In fact, companies are beginning to make a low-carb variant of pretty much every food there is – bread, meat, even potato chips. Remember a few years back when it was hip to bash fats? We wouldn’t be surprised if proteins are the next cool thing to bash, just imagine the headlines: “The low-protein diet of your dreams – live the healthy life once again.”

2Back to the topic, though. A well-balanced intake of carbs is actually a pretty neat thing, but in order to avoid excess amounts sticking onto your body as fat, what you need to do is cycle your carbs. What you should do is take in just the right amount of carbs that your body needs as fuel, for instance having three low carb days, followed by two higher carb days to help recovery, as well as to replenish glycogen. Always make sure that your carbs come from clean foods (junk foods are a definite no-no) and make sure never to go too high throughout the diet, except during the final stages and only if necessary.

First things first, you need to determine exactly how many carbs you should eat on your highest day, which amounts to about 1.3 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight. Another cool thing to do is to keep a nutrition journal, just in case you want to be able to chart progress and make adjustments during the diet. This is useful to have in order to see how the body reacts to certain tactics. Long story short, it’s very useful to have, so if you don’t mind the extra 10 minutes of work, prep a journal for yourself. You’ll thank us later.

Here’s a basic scheme of how carb cycling works, with a 150-pound male used as a guideline:

  • Day 1: 150 grams
  • Day 2: 100 grams
  • Day 3: 50 grams
  • Day 4: 130 grams
  • Day 5: 200 grams

Repeat cycle as written, throughout the entire course of the diet.

NOTE: fibrous vegetables shouldn’t be counted into your total carb count for the day because they are very low in calories and carbs while at the same time being an excellent source of fiber. Only count starchy complex carbs.

Some tweaking for this scheme will, naturally, be necessary for most people, as many of us are a bit more ‘carb sensitive/resistant” than others. Moreover, your activity level, training intensity level, sex and age can all determine how much you will need to adjust things, but setting about 200 grams of carbs as your highest amount seems like a good place to start.

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